McDougalls' children removed yet again

Mark and Kerry McDougall, the Scottish couple who fled to Ireland in 2009 to avoid the social services in Fife, Scotland, taking her then unborn son into care at birth (on the grounds that she was unfit to be a parent because of her learning difficulties) have had both their sons removed by the same department last Saturday. The couple had returned to Dunfermline last year as they wanted to be near friends and family, but social workers interfered from the start, insisting that Mark not work as Kerry should not look after the children unsupervised. The latest development seems to have occurred after Mark was arrested for calling social services and ‘threatening’ one of the staff (he claims that his offending consisted of nothing more than a raised voice) after they interviewed one of the children at nursery without their presence or consent. Mark was bailed on the condition that he not contact the department.

According to friends of the couple on Facebook, the family were visited by police early on Saturday morning and asked if they planned to move back to Ireland, to which they said no. Mark asked if they could take the boys to see their grandparents, to which the police responded that they could go where they liked. The police returned around 1pm and held them at home for the next five hours until social workers came and took the boys away. We are informed that they are being fostered together but had asked for their mother. There is expected to be a hearing to decide whether the boys can return home some time this week. There are currently no reporting restrictions; Fife applied for a court order to impose them when the family returned to the area, but it was refused as the children were already in the public eye.

The couple are obviously very distressed and their friends are furious, as they had already proved their competency as parents over the first several months of Ben’s life. Irish social workers removed him at a few days old on instructions from Fife, and although Kerry was allowed to look after Ben for a short while in a mother and baby centre, he spent most of his first year in foster care with increasing, supervised contact. They remain friends with the Irish foster family who have visited them since their return to Scotland. Why is the judgement of the Irish social workers not good enough for those in Fife? To their friends and supporters in the wider disability community, it appears to be a case of naked prejudice mixed with malice towards a couple which embarrassed them. I hope the judge sees through their claims and returns Ben and Lochlan promptly. In a way, it’s a good thing that this may come to court, as it brings the possibility of their interference and the restrictions on their lives being ended, and it may set a precedent for future cases involving couples where one has a mild intellectual disability.

The Facebook page supporting the family can be found here. You may see links to my previous posts about this long-running saga below.

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